Getting the Government to
Pay Family Caregivers

Some 44.4 million adult caregivers -- or 21% of the U.S. adult population --
provide unpaid care to seniors or adults with disabilities, according to a 2004
study by the National Alliance for Caregiving in Bethesda, Md. On average, those
caregivers provide 21 hours of care a week and the average length of time spent
providing care is 4.3 years.

Over the years, the National Care Planning Council has received many public
requests through our website --
www.longtermcarelink.net. A number of these
requests have been from family caregivers who had to cut back on their
employment or even quit their jobs in order to take care of one or both of their
parents. Invariably these caregivers assume there is a government program that
will pay them to provide this care. Only recently have we become aware of some
programs that will pay family members. These programs are not publicized and
the public is largely unaware of them or how to receive them.

Money Follows the Person—MFP (Self-Direction in Care)
In recent years, some state Medicaid programs have been experimenting with the
idea of providing a budget to elderly Medicaid recipients. This money can be used
to hire family or friends to provide care at home. Most of these programs are
very limited, and there are waiting lists for them. Also, the amount of money
available may not always be enough to compensate a family member to provide
full-time care in lieu of maintaining employment.

But the attitude of government is quickly changing and there is now a new
initiative to provide income for family caregivers. The Deficit Reduction Act of
2005 allocated $1.4 billion -- the largest demonstration grant in Medicaid history
-- to a program called "Money Follows the Person." This program is designed to
transition individuals receiving Medicaid and who are living in institutions, back into
the community. In 2007, 31 states received their portion of the grant money pie to
begin demonstration programs offering more choice in care besides an institution.
Most of these state programs offer a concept called "self-direction" which allows
a budget to be established by Medicaid for the care recipient. Self-direction
allows the care recipient to spend this money hiring any caregiver of choice and
this typically includes friends and family.

Unfortunately, this is not a widespread benefit for elderly Medicaid recipients and
in addition only applies to bringing elderly people out of institutions and back into
the community to receive care. Over the next five years, only 34,395 elderly care
recipients nationwide are expected to be transitioned to community-based care
through this program. Even though this represents a fraction of the elderly, who
over the next five years are expected to receive Medicaid services in institutions,
there is still a possibility for the family to apply for one of these programs and to
have the government pay for their care services.

Using the Veterans Aid and Attendance Pension Benefit
A totally overlooked source of money to pay family caregivers to provide care at
home is the aid and Attendance Pension Benefit. This money is available to
veterans who served during a period of war. Pension money is also available to
the widows of these veterans. This benefit, under the right circumstances, can
provide up to $1,843 a month in additional income to pay family members to
provide care at home.

It also comes as a surprise to many people that about 33% of all seniors could
qualify for the aid and attendance benefit. That's how many veterans or their
surviving spouses there are in this country.

Getting the aid and attendance benefit to pay for family caregivers is not an easy
task. This is because there must be a caregiver contract in place and services for
care must be initiated and thoroughly documented before application can be
made. Getting these applications approved requires using a consultant who
understands the documentation requirements. Very few people can do it on their
own.

Fortunately, the National Care Planning Council is working on a program to train
veterans benefits consultants across the country. This package will be available
to attorneys, financial products practitioners, care managers, home care
companies and assisted living facilities. The planned release is the first week of
April, 2008.

The training package includes a 180 page training manual entitled "How to
Become a Veterans Benefits Consultant" This manual describes the legal
restrictions on providing consulting services for veterans and offers a number of
strategies to avoid running afoul of the law. Instructions are also provided on how
to use the marketing tools in the benefits consultants package to inform the public
about these services. These marketing tools include educational and promotional
booklets, brochures and a seminar marketing system. The use of ancillary
services such as long term care planning and offering caregiver contracts are
thoroughly presented as a way to attract new clients or customers and help those
who are looking for income for caregiving services..

The consultants package also includes a one-year listing on the most visited
webpage on the National Care Planning Council website -- www.longtermcarelink.
net. Even without any listings currently on this webpage, it is amazingly producing
about 6 to 7 requests a day for the services of veterans benefits consultants. A
targeted listing on this exclusive webpage will only be available to individuals who
own our consultants package.

The package also provides a custom-designed, veterans benefits consultant
website and hosting service. Instructions are provided on how to promote this
website to search engines in order to create Internet inquiries.

Using Medicaid Spend down to Pay Family Caregivers
In order to qualify for Medicaid nursing care, a person must spend his or her cash
assets down to less than $2,000. Instead of giving this money to the nursing
home and waiting for Medicaid to kick in, the potential beneficiary can instead
transfer this money to a child in return for caregiver services. This is not
considered a gift and if done properly does not create a penalty for Medicaid
eligibility. The strategy also allows Medicaid to take over paying its portion of the
nursing home costs much sooner.

As with the caregiver contracts for VA benefits, an expert in this area of Medicaid
benefits is required in order to do it right. In fact, the same type of caregiver
agreements used for obtaining extra income under the veterans benefit can also
be used for Medicaid. A consultant who is proficient in both the aid and
attendance benefit and Medicaid personal caregiver agreements can be of great
service to the community. This contracts’ consultant can help relieve a great deal
of caregiver stress by providing funds to help that caregiver cope with personal
financial pressures.

We are excited to help family caregivers lessen the financial stress of their
caregiving commitment.

Members of the community who wish to know more about veterans benefits
consultants and caregiver agreements can contact the National Care Planning
Council at
inquiry@longtermcarelink.net or by calling us at 800-989-8137.


"Planning for Eldercare" March 19, 2008  
|
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The
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by Katie Rodriguez Banister

Find original article  at this webaddress:
http://www.longtermcarelink.net/article-2008-3-19.htm
Thank You
Janet L. Heitzig, CLU, ChFC, CLTC
for sharing this ariticle with us.

Janet L Heitzig, CLU, ChFC, CLTC
Principal Financial Group
14755 N Outer 40-Ste 110
Chesterfield, MO  63017
Phone  636-449-0734     Fax  1-866-488-0903
Securities and advisory products offered through Princor Financial
Services Corporation, 800/247-4123, member SIPC, Des Moines, IA   50392.  
Senior Strategies, L.L.C. is not an affiliate of Princor.  
e-mail Heitzig.Janet@principal.com
Princor Registered Representative, Financial Advisor, Financial Representative,
Principal Life Insurance Company.
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